They didn't win the war : aesthetics and infrastructure in post-counterinsurgency Guatemala.
By studying, producing, and executing ethnographic visual-arts projects, my dissertation analyzes the sociocultural infrastructures intrinsic to sensorial forms of counterinsurgency that spread to the aesthetic regime in contemporary Guatemala. I focus on the historical moment in which counterinsurgency becomes common sense(s) within significant numbers of Guatemalans, for whom the lack of empathy towards the suffering of State-violence is normalized. In the aftermath of Rios Montt’s genocide trial, this lack of empathy is basically triggered by the emergence of a field of expressivity in which the history of State-violence becomes tangible and transmutes in the production of processes of politicization. This dissertation is an attempt to understand the sociocultural sensorial framework in which, on the one hand, it becomes almost impossible to empathize with the victims of genocide and massive extermination; while on the other hand, the spaces and experiences in which the reproduction of this form of hegemony fails and the failure manifests itself in new forms of dissent. My dissertation builds on a two-year multisite fieldwork in collaboration with visual artists, Maya-Ixil researchers, and archivists.